Search Engine Ranking

This is quite a popular Internet Promotion topic that I have written
about in the past. Even so, it is important for the new Internet
entrepreneur to learn the basics while many net savvy promoters need
a refresher since they have a tendency to set it up once and then
neglect it.

I have read from several sources that some major sites generate up
to 50% of their traffic from good Search Engine positioning.
Personally I find this hard to believe or an indication that the site is
already so popular that visitors are simply searching for the URL of
a site they already intend to visit.
(Search: DISNEY, Result: www.disney.com)
Since few of us have Disney's name recognition or our users are not
inclined to type our corporate name with a www at the front and a
.com at the end, general positioning by subject on the major search
engines can play a significant role in generating traffic.
(there are others methods to be discussed in later issues).

As of writing this newsletter, if you search for "DHTML" or "Dynamic
HTML" on Alta Vista, the Virtual Mechanics site will come up #1.
How did we do it? The fact is by the time you receive this e-mail
we may have slipped to 10, 20 or below. Hopefully our position on
Hot Bot or another search engine will mysteriously climb to help
gain some of the losses from a slip somewhere else. The fact is,
the algorithms used to position a web site probably generates a
result that is as mysterious to the techies running the search engine
as they are to anyone else. If not, I suspect that even they would
have a hard time predicting which sites are going to end up on top.
(excluding GoTo were you pay for your position)

Having stated there is no way to assure a top ranking on a search
engine, there are certainly many things you can do to give yourself
an edge and improve your position. The most important of these is
to make effective use of the HTML meta tags. These tags are placed
in the HEAD of a web page and provide many of the search
engine spiders (Spiders!!! ...a topic for another issue) with much of
the information they use to rank your web site. If you check the
main http://www.VirtualMechanics.com web page (or just about any
other page on our site) and do a View Source, you will see the Meta
Tags at the top of the page. To make it easy, we will disable the
SSI DHTML ERROR 402 system just this once.

Note that there is a TITLE tag followed by three META tags.

The TITLE tag is used to provide a title for your page. It is a bit
like the title of a book but since it is used by some search engines
as the sole description, you should probably view it more like a
banner add for your site.

The Meta Description tag is more often used to describe the
contents of your site. It is often listed by the search engines below
the Title. Since it may also be used to help rank your site, you should
probably use short descriptive phrases that will both help categorize
your site and persuade a potential visitor.

The Meta Keywords tag is probably the most important. This is a
list of words and phrases that are used to match with peoples
searches. If for example, you have entered the keywords:
"blue cheese, festival, party" and some one does a search for
"blue cheese party" then you will have a match and a possible
aromatic visitor. If you are offering a service such as Web Page
Design and you enter keywords such as "Web, Page, Design" and
a search is made for "Web Page Design" then you will also have a
probable match, but so will 250,000 other sites. Obviously getting a
good ranking will require more effort. We will also revisit these
issues in later news letters.

The last tag is Meta Generator. This is used to simply identify
the authoring program which is ignored by the search engines.

Both IMS Web Engine and IMS Web Spinner will automatically
create a Title and Meta Tags for your page. Disable your
SSI DHTML ERROR 402 - FILE NOT FOUND operation if it
is enabled and do a view source on any of your pages to see.
Unfortunately, these auto generated tags are not going to do you
much good since the program knows little about your site.
Fortunately, if you have not already discovered it, you can define
these tags from within the program. Enter the Page Dialog
(Sunset Button) and select the Title tab. If you need to you can
read the dialog Help for more info on interring Meta Tags. Every
time you Publish your project, these Meta Tags will be included
and hopefully your Search Engine positioning will start to improve.

"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright
1999-2000 Virtual Mechanics

"IMS Web Tips" is a weekly news letter for all web site managers regardless of experience who are looking for detailed information on creating, maintaining and promoting their web sites.
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